Crown Royal YHNH program kicks off this weekend!

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Bullz-Eye participated in the Capture the Crown fun-filled weekend at the Crown Royal Brickyard 400 last year, and what
made that experience so special was honoring a true hero and their family. And now, you get a chance to nominate this year’s hero, which the race will be named after in 2014.

As the cars roll into Phoenix this weekend at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race, the search for the namesake of the 2014 Brickyard 400 will officially launch, with the help of Packages From Home. The local non-profit organization, dedicated to sending care packages to active-duty troops stationed overseas, has teamed up with Crown Royal to kick off the brand’s “Your Hero’s Name Here” program, which honors a deserving American hero by re-naming the July NASCAR race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his or her honor.

Packages From Home and Crown Royal will treat a group of local heroes from Luke Air Force Base to a VIP experience at this weekend’s NASCAR race. In addition to sending 20 military members to the race, two individuals are being recognized as the inaugural program nominees and will have the chance to have the legendary Indianapolis race named in their honor.

Consumers 21+ can visit CrownRoyalHeroes.com to nominate their own heroes for a chance to win naming rights to the race. Nominations will be accepted through April 13th, with finalists being announced at the end of April.

  

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Great Times with Crown Royal and Big Machine at the 2012 NASCAR Brickyard 400

Our weekend with Crown Royal culminated with us heading over to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 2012 NASCAR Brickyard 400 sponsored by Crown Royal and Big Machine Records. Our group arrived at the track around 8 AM so we could enjoy and appreciate the full day of festivities. We were fortunate to have the Crown Royal suite as our home base as we took in so much of what the grounds of this world class track had to offer. There were plenty of bands and exhibits, including Sunny Sweeny, Greg Bates and the Mavericks. A few of the pre race happenings that I really enjoyed were meeting and listening to country star and Big Machine recording artist Justin Moore perform at the Brickfest stage near the speedway, and then, before the race, our media passes allowed Bullz-Eye to get right in the front of a stage on the track to see another Big Machine Records group, The Band Perry, perform and they were incredible. I felt like the entertainment level was sky high before the race even began! We knew this was going to be an experience from the info provided by Crown Royal, but until race day, it was hard to comprehend.

As race time approached, the weather warmed up to about 86 degrees and the 125,000 in attendance were ready for some racing. After the Band Perry concert ended, we headed back up to the Crown Royal seating where the ESPN team, including former UNC star and Cleveland cavalier Brad Daugherty, were filing their pre-race analysis. This race will mark the sixth time Crown Royal has awarded race naming rights to an adult fan. This year, the program focused on all of the unsung heroes who make a difference in their communities, from firefighters and police officers, to first responders and local volunteers. Five heroes were chosen as finalists and adult fans visited the Crown Royal Facebook page to cast their votes for the person they felt was most deserving of the honor. Fireman Curtiss Shave was the winner this year and we had the opportunity to get to spend some time with Curtiss, and in our opinion, Crown Royal made a great choice. The official race title that was used throughout the national television broadcast and incorporated into race memorabilia, as well as the race winner’s trophy, was the Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard powered by Big MachineRecords.com. Various events and celebrations took place leading up to and throughout race weekend to honor Shaver, during which Crown Royal consistently reminded everyone to please drink responsibly. Race time!

The race was televised on ESPN, so millions watched as Jimmie Johnson took control early and cruised his way to victory. Jimmie secured the trophy in Victory Lane after the race, but not before I had a chance to take a picture with that hardware! Jimmie wasn’t the only winner on Sunday, as Crown Royal and Big Machine Records donated thousands of dollars to charities such as Operation Patriot and Honoring Heroes. This was my first time attending a NASCAR race and I can truly understand the passion of their fans and admire their love of country and celebrating a sport that keeps getting better.

  

Heading to Crown Royal “Curtiss Shaver” NASCAR 400 in Indy

For the sixth consecutive season, Crown Royal is honoring someone with a Cup Series race named after him or her. The five finalists for this year’s Crown Royal presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway were recently announced and this year’s winner is Fire Lieutenant and EMT from Troy, Ala. Curtiss Shaver. Bullz-Eye will be flying out to Indianapolis to meet Curtiss and check out the 2012 NASCAR Crown Royal Curtiss Shaver 400 on July 29th.

When local firefighters saved Troy native Curtiss Shaver’s life during a tragic farming accident, Shaver knew he’d found his calling. Though the accident claimed the lower part of his left leg, Shaver persevered and began a lifelong career as a firefighter and certified EMT with the goal of giving back to his community. In a special event today at Troy Fire Station No. 1, a ceremonial Yard of Bricks was revealed to recognize Shaver as winner of Crown Royal’s “Your Hero’s Name Here” program. The national contest renames the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) on July 29th after a deserving American hero.

In an effort to bring a little piece of the famed track (more commonly known as The Brickyard) to Troy, Alabama, Crown Royal orchestrated a special ceremony that resulted in the laying of a replica “Yard of Bricks” in Troy’s downtown area. The final engraved brick bearing the race logo was personally laid by Shaver, culminating the ceremony. “I’m a huge NASCAR fan, so having my name as a race title is absolutely unbelievable” said Shaver. “I’m honored that I was nominated for this incredible contest and humbled that so many people voted for my story. I’m looking forward to representing emergency personnel everywhere who risk their lives for others on a daily basis.” Crown Royal’s Facebook page was where most of the action took place, and they were obviously very excited when Curtiss was chosen as this year’s American Hero. “Crown Royal could not be happier to announce Curtiss Shaver as our ‘Your Hero’s Name Here’ winner,” said Yvonne Briese, VP Marketing, Diageo North American whisky. “His story of perseverance and determination inspired everyone in the Crown Royal family and we are proud to honor him with the ultimate race experience.”

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Spotlight on Booze: Canadian Whisky

Make no mistake, this is not only your dad’s but also your grandfather’s whiskey. Depending on your age and where your family was during prohibition, it might even be your great-great-grandfather and/or grandmother’s whiskey. Say what you like about Canadian whisky, it’s stood the test of time.

Sometimes referred to, particularly in Canada, as rye despite the fact that it’s primarily made with corn spirits, Canadian whisky, unlike now resurgent American rye whiskey, never threatened to go away. Still, while some uninformed bartenders still think rye is just the name of a type of Jewish bread, it’s the rare bar that doesn’t stock Seagram’s V.O., Canadian Club, Crown Royal and often Black Velvet. Its the even rarer connoisseur or cocktail aficionado who will admit to being excited about them, with some liquor snobs deriding Canadian as “brown vodka.” Following their lead, younger drinkers who have taken to premium brands of bourbon and Scotch, have largely ignored it. That’s not to say unassuming Canadian Whisky has no fans among the cognoscenti. We kind of love it and no less an authority than cocktail historian David Wondrich suggests Canadian Club — a value-priced favorite of ours — as the perfect vehicle for an Old Fashioned, the most purist-friendly whiskey cocktail we know.

In any case, pop culture seems to be slowly becoming more aware of American rye whiskey’s almost-as-retro northern cousin. The 2008 primary elections saw Hillary Clinton swigging a much-discussed shot of Crown Royal, the very smooth Chivas Regal of Canadian. Though the label is angled so that the logo is just slightly out of our view, it’s clear that Canadian Club — first brewed by distilling legend Hiram Walker — is Donald Draper’s poison of choice on “Mad Men.” (In the first episode, newbie secretary Peggy Olson is informed that rye is the same as Canadian, and told it’s what her new boss drinks.) It also sure looks to be Canadian Club that washing up on the Jersey shore in HBO’s bootlegging themed early gangland drama, “Boardwalk Empire.” By law, Canadian whisky must be aged at least three years, though Canadian Club and Seagram’s V.O. are both aged for six

In fact, the popularity of Canadian whisky — which many insist must be spelled sans “e” — in the U.S. goes back to those dark days for everyone but gangsters between 1920 and 1933 when the sale and manufacture of liquor was illegal in the land of free and home of the brave, but thoroughly legal up north. Jewish-Canadian entrepreneur and liquor distributor Samuel Bronfman became wealthy and powerful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams by staying more or less on the right side of the law while doing business with the likes of Al Capone. He purchased Joseph E. Seagram’s and Sons and launched what became, for a time, a massive commercial and media empire. (It’s worth noting that the line’s flagship brand, Seagram’s 7 Crown, best known as the non-7-Up ingredient in a “7 and 7,” is not technically Canadian whisky. The U.S. version, at least, is bottled in Indiana and marketed as “an American whiskey,” whatever that is.)

Since it’s primarily blended and is generally not a very complex kind of a whiskey, it’s likely that Canadian will never have the cachet of bourbon, rye, or Scotch, but its hipness quotient may be improving slightly. Canadian Club has shrewdly played on its history with a series of attention-grabbing print ads with the slogan “Damn right, your dad drank it.” The ads alluded to the allegedly racy lifestyles of fathers of yore and used actual family photographs from Canadian Club employees.

As for cocktail and liquor aficionados, New York Times writer Robert Simonson blogged some time ago that his contacts in the gourmet and mixology worlds became obviously bored at the mere mention of Canadian whisky. However, Simonson’s April 2011 article details how there are real changes brewing in the world of Canadian booze. He specifically cites the highly acclaimed Forty Creek distillery and also attempts by better known makers of Canadian whiskey to brew blends that will appeal to drinkers used to the more complex flavors of today’s premium whiskeys.

Forty Creek does appear to be the most prevalent of the “new style” Canadian whisky manufacturers and we were able to pick up a bottle on sale at out local big-box beverage emporium. Our reaction was a bit mixed; we still think Canadian Club is more tasty and given its extremely low price, difficult to beat. Even so, we anxiously await the arrival of more and better Canadian whiskys. It’s time to see if our polite and funny friends to our north can create some premium whiskeys that will give some real competition to Kentucky and Tennessee, not to mention Scotland and Ireland.

  

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